Chris Mills

What skills and technologies should colleges and universities teach students who want to be web designers and/or developers? Why?

I think they should be taught in stages.

The first essential knowledge they all need to know as a precursor is web basics, eg how the internet works, how to get a domain, and hosting, and FTP files to your web site, what the web community is like, how to become a part of it, web etiquette, how to make the most of the web when looking for help and making contacts, etc.

The next essential part they should all be taught is client side web development - they should get a thorough grounding in HTML and CSS, and be taught at least the basics of JavaScript/DOM. Even hardcore developers should know this stuff.

Next, they should be able to start to specialize, eg one student might want to learn more about design principles, fine art, etc and focus on web design; another might want to focus on JavaScript/Ajax/PHP and become a middleware/web developer. A third might want to go even further in to the backend, and specialise on PHP/MySQL, or .NET/SQL Server, and security/e-commerce. But they should still understand what is going on in the front end.

Should students be educated in both web design and development or just one? Why?

I think they should all be educated in both design and development to a certain degree - see above.

If you could create your dream curriculum for web design and development, what courses and information would you include? Why? What courses and information now in such programs would you eliminate? Why?

I particularly want to see bad, outdated practices eliminated from university courses, such as using tables for layout, GIF sspacers, and use of bad inaccessible dHTML. It should removed because it is not helping the evolution of the web, or student’s job prospects.

What type of projects do you want to see in a recent graduate’s web design and/or development portfolio?

Evidence of good semantic HTML, nice clean CSS styling and layouts that work nicely across major browsers and alternative devices, and JavaScript functionality that is unobtrusive and degrades gracefully. Accessibility should be a must.

How can colleges and universities keep web design and/or development curriculum current and relevant?

By talking to real employers about what is current, and looking at up to date courses. It would be great to set up some kind of university liaison taskforce, to help universities stay current.